Sara Grey

SARA GREY was our Guest at the end of March 2006 and, enticed to Suffolk by the Everyman Folk Club, visited two schools as part of our Education Programme.  Sara has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet, with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. Sara's voice is well suited to native American ballads and ballads for Ireland and Scotland.

Cold Mountain was the background for a presentation of the songs from the American Civil War. It looked at the power of song on a number levels; the power of song to convey news and information in a time when the only means of conveying these tragic events was by word of mouth. Song has the power to convey emotions and the depth of feelings at a time of division and conflict. It has the power to bring people together in times of trouble and to lift their spirits and give then a sense of belonging. Among the aspects of life addressed by the songs used in the workshop were the futility of war, the horror and tragedy of war, the role of women at a time when men were away fighting and often not returning, and the strength of people facing insurmountable odds.


More songs have come out of the American Civil War than from any other conflict so there is a rich source of songs dealing with all aspects of life and death in that period of time.


The songs were sung and transmitted by ordinary folk living, quite often, in remote settlements. They were the bearers of news from one area to another and not only did the songs provide solace and comfort for the singers and listeners but they passed on details of the war, conditions on the battlefield, the thoughts of the soldiers etc. This was critical as this was the only form of communication in the Appalachians in the 1800s.


Pupils who attended these interactive and informal workshops were struck by the effectiveness of this communication even after all the years since then. They have been exposed to the power of unaccompanied singing to get the message across and to accompaniment and singing together for solace and social enrichment.


Additional funding for Sara's workshops was provided by Suffolk Folk and the Big Music Nights.


Mary Dickinson